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Markets wait a Fed minute

Markets wait a Fed minute

A week on from last Wednesday’s sharp impeachment-inspired sell-off in risky assets and the recovery across markets seem to be running out of steam. Movement in European equity’s was below average before the release of minutes from the last meeting of the Federal Reserve. Chinese stocks and the renminbi were lower after Moody’s downgraded the country debt for the first time in 30 years.

 

US stocks opened slightly higher and remain in the vicinity of record high territory. Wall Street has recouped last Wednesday’s sudden losses but needs a catalyst to take the next leg up. Fed minutes and the OPEC meeting are two such potential catalysts. Overall economic growth looks supportive or more market gains. Despite the debt worries, China’s growth has been stable, Donald Trump’s growth agenda is down but not out and European growth is picking up some of the slack.

 

FTSE 100 gains stand out

The FTSE 100 stood out from a crowd of weaker performance across benchmarks in mainland Europe. A lacklustre British pound which has struggled to build on its election gains in the last week softened the blow of a series of poorly-received corporate updates from the likes of Marks & spencer and B&Q-owner Kingfisher. Early alarm at China’s debt downgrade by Moody’s eased by the afternoon with China-sensitive mining stocks well off lows of the day.

 

M&S shares reversed opening losses since the car crash 64% annual profit drop was thanks to a one-off hit from costs associated with chief executive Steve Rowe’s turnaround effort. Shares of Glencore may have been caught up in the broader sell-off in commodity stocks. A late session recovery suggests investors are comfortable with the informal takeover offer for rival grain trader Bunge.

 

Markets expect hawkish Fed

The dollar strength over the last 24hrs is likely a consequence of the consensus expectation that FOMC minutes will come down on the hawkish side and aid the expectation that there will be two more hikes this year and more talk of balance sheet shrinkage thereafter. Should the minutes turn out a little move dovish than expected, perhaps mirroring the kind of concerns at the ECB at the impact of unwinding stimulus re shrinking the balance sheet, markets could come unstuck.

 

Central Bankers scared of QE unwind

The euro teetered underneath recent highs as ECB officials including President Draghi talked down inflationary pressures even as European data impressed again. German consumer confidence rose to a new 2-year high according to a survey by Gfk. The message from the ECB financial stability review was that policymakers are well aware of the risk of ending quantitative easing. It’s perhaps no surprise that ECB policymakers have been cautious about acknowledging the uptick in inflation because of its implications for QE.

 

 

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